Salim Valji's Best Bet: NHL Games on Monday, October 5

Salim ValjiCorrespondent IOctober 5, 2009

DENVER - OCTOBER 03:  Goaltender Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks defends the goal against the Colorado Avalanche during NHL action at the Pepsi Center on October 3, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. Luongo had 24 saves while giving up three goals as the Avalanche defeated the Canucks 3-0.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

This is the first in a series of bi-weekly articles where Salim Valji gives the breakdown of the NHL games on schedule for that night, and gives you his picks. 

Game One: New York Rangers at New Jersey Devils, 7:00 PM EST

The New York Rangers boast a very deep and talented forward corps that includes Chris Drury, Marion Gaborik, and Brandon Dubinsky.  And to boot, they have one of the best goalies in the league in Henrik Lundqvist. 

That's what makes the loss of John Madden via free agency that much more important; as Rod Pelley has yet to prove he can handle shutting down opposing stars as Madden did. 

Despite the fact that Sean Avery is out and that New York is facing arguably the greatest goaltender of all time, New York will win this one and upset New Jersey at home in a high scoring affair. 

New York Rangers, over 5.5 goals

Game 2: Columbus Blue Jackets at Vancouver Canucks, 10:00 EST

Vancouver has gotten off to a slow start, and the play of Roberto Luongo has been suspect.  85.7 percent might look good on a Biology test, but not when you're an NHL goalie; and both he and the offense have to start producing. 

Vancouver looks far better on paper, but Columbus has played better thus far.  I'm going with Columbus in a low-scoring affair. 

Columbus Blue Jackets, under 5.5 goals. 

There you have it, folks—two games on schedule and two underdogs.